Aldi plots aggressive expansion as cost of living crisis sees demand surge | Business News

Aldi is planning to open 500 more stores in the UK, a top executive has told Sky News.

Giles Hurley, the company’s CEO in the UK and Ireland, said the supermarket chain has seen a surge in demand during the cost of living crisis.

An additional 1.1 million customers have come through Aldi’s doors in the past 12 months – with an aggressive expansion and squeezed household budgets piling pressure on established rivals.

Speaking to Business Live with Ian King, Mr Hurley said Aldi now has a long-term target of 1,500 stores – building on an earlier goal of opening 1,200 sites by 2025.

Aldi’s 1,000th store opened its doors in Woking on Thursday – and it is currently the country’s fourth-largest supermarket chain after it overtook Morrisons by market share a year ago.

It now employs 40,000 people.

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‘Moderation’ of food inflation ahead

The German discounter plans to open another 20 new stores before the end of the year as part of a £1.3bn, two-year investment plan.

Its main barrier to new store openings is finding suitable sites as the company – and fierce rival Lidl – continue to muscle in on the power of chains including Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer.

The discounters’ appeal has grown during the cost of living crisis, with food inflation remaining in double digits.

The stampede for value-focused grocery shopping has forced others to compete more aggressively on price.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s both have offerings that match Aldi prices on key products and have loyalty schemes, which are denting profits, in a bid to keep shoppers.

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Mr Hurley said of his company’s progress: “It’s the demand which, I guess, is giving us the confidence to continue to scale and expand the business.

“What we recognise most of all is that there are communities across the UK who continue to pay high prices for their groceries because they only have access to a traditional full-price supermarket or their more expensive convenience arm.

“We’ve long had the view at Aldi that healthy, affordable food is a right not a privilege.”

He added that he was “optimistic” that Aldi could continue to cut prices on some essential items in the run-up to Christmas, saying price pressures had been easing overall for the past five months.

“I think when it comes to the longer-term outlook it’s a bit more difficult to assess,” he said – citing the many factors that had influenced costs in the grocery sector over the past two years.

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